The Gowanus Canal is a sewer. It has always been and will always be a sewer, by the simple fact of its geography. The     Gowanus lies at the bottom of a bowl. The sides of this bowl are referred to by the New York City Department of     Environmental Protection as the Gowanus “sewershed”. As a pre-industrial swamp the Gowanus was a sewer and     as an industrial canal it is a sewer.
   The sewer system as it was laid out over the years uses the Gowanus Canal as a receiver of last resort. When     surrounding sewers are overloaded they flow into the Gowanus. This happens on average 30-50 times a year. No     amount of Super Fund remediation will alter this.
  Variations on a “soft” remediation strategy have been proposed, whereby the Gowanus is returned to some degree   of its pre-industrial state as a swamp. I would argue that, in fact, the Gowanus Canal is a case for a “hard” strategy   of total remediation, based on the intractabe nature of its geographic position.    
   This hard strategy takes advantage of the immanent post-Superfund moment -when the canal is drained and dredged to    place a canal beneath the canal, a sub-infrastructure. The surface level canal would, in essence, be “double   –bagged”, contained in an impermeable lining, while the sub canal would receive the Combined Sewer Outflow   (CSO) and surface runoff through an enveloping filtration substrate that culminates at outlets that flow into the   subsurface-canal.   The canal, as it exists, is the sum of low intensity moments. Apart from the waterway itself, there is no outstanding   objector location that defines the experience of the canal and its surrounds. It is a series of repeated underwhelming   moments that collectively produce a sublime effect that is very much dependent on the weather and the viewer’s   state of mind.
  I n the infrastructure I propose there are opportunities for architectural insertions that can serve as higher intensity,     experiential, and incidentally pedagogic moments. By creating pathways and occupiable spaces that dramatically     reveal and merge the doubling infrastructure, creating places of heightened awareness and communication with the     canal itself. The toxic past, and consumptive present are revealed in the catch-basins and leaching zones along the     sub-canal route; and chambers at the bottom of aeration voids offer a unique simultaneously subterranean and subaquatic    experience
   Occupying these spaces is subject to the natural ebb and flow of the canal, which overflows into the subcanal at high    tide. On the surface the project is revealed in voids; underground by a designed spelunking. The Gowanus Canal   becomes occupiable in a new way, its water is again the water of New York Bay, not tainted by the toxic runoff of the   industrial past; yet its essence, and its primary role as infrastructure is unaltered.
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